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Adjunct Senior Research Scientist
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Marine Geology and Geophysics
Oceanography 302A
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
(845) 365-8648
(845) 365-8156


Fields of interest: 
Marine geology, sedimentology, paleoseismology

Cecilia McHugh is an Adjunct Senior Researcher in the Marine Geology and Geophysics Division at Lamont and a Professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Queens College City University of New York.

For the past ten years, she has been a precursor in the evolving field of submarine paleoseismology developing methods for submarine studies of earthquakes and tsunamis from their sedimentary record and structural deformation. The ultimate goal is contributing to better hazard predictions and education. She worked in the Marmara Sea, Turkey after the 1999 Izmit and Duzce earthquakes, offshore Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and in the Japan Trench after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. In Bangladesh McHugh and her students and Lamont collaborators are documenting a large earthquake that occurred in 1762 by dating coral microatolls that were uplifted during the earthquake and died. The researchers are also collecting evidence for a 1762 tsunami. With a population of 160 million and many leaving along the coast, if a large earthquake and tsunami were to occur today, they could be devastating. L. Seeber and C. McHugh recently documented extensive liquefaction in the Dolai River Valley in NE Bangladesh in response to the January 3, 2017 Mw5.5 earthquake. They identified paleoliquefaction events in trenches demonstrating that low magnitude, deeply rooted (30 km) earthquakes pose a high risk to the population in Bangladesh.

McHugh as a marine geologist uses sediment for better understanding eustasy and climate. She has participated in four Ocean Drilling Expeditions offshore New Jersey, USA and offshore the Southern Island in Canterbury Basin, New Zealand. She also participated in an International Ocean Discovery Program drilling expedition to study the evolution of monsoon offshore western Australia.

Along the local estuaries of the Hudson River and Long Island Sound, McHugh, her students, and Lamont, Stony Brook, SUNY, and Adelphi University are studying the impact of anthropogenic activities in the sediments. As a result of an NSF RAPID response grant in 2013, they surveyed the bays and inlets of Long Beach Island on the southern shore of Long Island, NY to learn about the impacts of super storm SANDY.  Involving students in local environmental problems is rewarding and facilitates their employment in local industry and/or state agencies.

One of McHugh’s greatest challenges was leading an NSF RAPID response expedition from the R/V Endeavour to study the 2010 Haiti earthquake less than two months after the earthquake. Luckily, collaborators from the University of Texas at Austin, Missouri State University and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, together with the marine office of the University of Rhode Island and the captain and crew of the R/V Endeavour helped make this operation a success. Nothing like teamwork!

List of degrees from highest to lowest:
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
Honors & Awards: 
Fellow of the Geological Society of America 2018
Distinguished Lecturer Ocean Drilling Program 2017-2018
Western Connecticut State University Centennial Award for Academic Excellence - 2002
Undergraduate Faculty Mentoring Research Award - Queens College, C.U.N.Y - 1998
Presidential Research Award - Queens College, C.U.N.Y. - 1997
Marine Geology and Geophysics Travel Award, Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and Department of Geological Sciences of Columbia University - 1990
Outstanding Accomplishments in Geological Sciences, The Danbury Mineralogical Society, Connecticut - 1987
B.A. "Summa Cum Laude" Western Conn. State University - 1987
Graduate Research Assistant, Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and Department of Geological Sciences of Columbia University 1988-1993
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Lamont Projects:

Vitali Badziai (PhD current); Dhiman Mondal (PhD 2019); Sharif Mustaque (MA 2019); Linda Moore (MA 2019)

Referenced in the Following News Items:

Selected Publications:

Isotopic and Sedimentary Signature of Megathrust Ruptures Along the Japan Subduction Margin McHugh, Cecilia M.; Seeber, Leonardo; Rasbury, Troy; Strasser, Michael; Kioka, Arata; Kanamatsu, Toshiya; Ikehara, Ken; Usami, Kazuko Marine Geology Volume: 428 (2020) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2020.106283
Megathrust earthquake drives drastic organic carbon supply into the hadal trench Kioka, A.; Schwestermann, T.; Moernaut, J.; Ikehara, K.; Kanamatsu, T.; McHugh, C. M.; dos Santos Ferreira, C.; Wiemer, G.; Haghipour, N.; Kopf A. J.; Eglington, T. I.; Strasser, M. Scientific Reports (2019) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-38834-x
Australia summer monsoon variability in the past 14,000 years revealed by IODP Expedition 356 sediments Ishiwa, T.; Yokoyama, Y.; Reuning, L.; McHugh, C.; De Vleeschouwer, D. Progress in Earth and Planetary Science (2019) doi.org/10.1186/s40645-019-0262-5
Neotectonics of Southeast Jamaica derived from marine seismic surveys and gravity cores Wright, V.; Hornbach, M.; Brown, L., McHugh, C.; Mitchell, S. Tectonics (2019) doi.org/10.1029/2019TC005806
Microatolls document the 1762 and prior earthquakes along the southeast coast of Bangladesh Mondal, Dhiman, R.; McHugh, Cecilia, M.; Mortlock, Richard A.; Steckler, Michael S.; Mustaque, Sharif; Akhter, Syed Humayun Tectonophysics (2018)
Neogene siliciclastic deposition and climate variability on a carbonate margin: Australia Northwest Shelf Tagliaro, G.; Fulthorpe, C. S; Gallagher, S. J.; McHugh, C. M.; Kominz, M.; Lavier, L. L. Marine Geology Volume: 403 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2018.06.007
Supercycle in great earthquake recurrence along the Japan Trench over the last 4000 years Usami, K.; Ikehara, K.; Kanamatsu, T.; McHugh, C., Geoscience Letters Volume: 5 (2018)
Australian shelf sediments reveal shifts in Miocene Southern Hemisphere Westerlies Groeneveld, J.; Henderiks, J.; Renema, W.; McHugh, C.M.; DeVleeschouwer, D.; Christensen, B.A.; Fulthorpe, C.S.; Reuning, L.; Gallagher, S.J.; Bogus, K.; Auer, G.; Ishiwa, T.; Expedition 356 Scientists Sience Advances Volume: 3 (2017) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602567
Indonesian Throughflow drove Australian climate from humid Pliocene to arid Pleistocene Christensen, B.A.; Renema, W.; Henderiks, J.; De Vleeschouwer, D.; Groenveld, J.; Castaneda, I.; Reuning, L.; Bogus, K.; Auer, G.; Ishiwa, T.; McHugh, C.M.; Gallagher, S. J.; Fulthorpe, C.S.; IODP Expedition 356 Scientists Geophysical Research Letters Volume: 44 (2017) Doi:10.1002/2017GL072977
High-resolution chronology of sediment below CCD based on Holocene paleomagnetic secular variations in the Tohoku-oki earthquake rupture zone Kanamatsu, Toshiya; Usami, Kazuko; McHugh, Cecilia M.; Ikehara, Ken Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems Volume: 18 (2017) DOI:10.1002/2017GC006878
The sedimentary imprint of Pleistocene glacio-eustasy: Implications for global correlations of seismic sequences McHugh, Cecilia M.; Fulthorpe, Craig S.; Hoyanagi, Koici; Blum, Peter; Mountain, Gregory S.; Miller, Ken G. Geosphere Volume: 13 (2017) DOI:10.1130/GES01569.1
Remobilization of surficial slope sediment triggered by the A.D. 2011 Mw 9 Tohoku-Oki earthquake and tsunami along the Japan Trench McHugh, Cecilia M.; Kanamatsu, Toshiya; Seeber Leonardo; Bopp, Richard; Cormier, Marie-H.; Usami, Kazuko Geology Volume: 44 (2016) doi:10.1130/G37650.1
Seafloor ruptures along the North Anatolia Fault in the Marmara Sea, Turkey: Link with the adjacent basin turbidite record McHugh, Cecilia M. G.; Braudy, Nicole; Cagatay, M., Namik; Sorlien, Christopher; Cormier, Marie-Helene; Seeber, Leonardo; Henry, Pierre Marine Geology Volume: 353 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.101016/j.margeo.2014.03.005
Evidence for wide-spread creep on the Sea of Marmara transform basin from marine geophysical data Shillington, D.J., Seeber, L., Sorlien, C.C., Steckler, M.S., Kurt, H., Dondurur, D., Çifci, G., Imren, C., Cormier, M.-H., McHugh, C.M.G, Gurcay, S., Poyraz, D., Okay, S., Athin, O., Diebold, J.B. Geology Volume: 40 p.: 439-442 (2012)
Offshore sedimentary effects of the 12 January 2010 Haiti earthquake McHugh, Cecilia, M.; Seeber, Leonardo; Braudy, Nicole; Cormier, Marie-H.; Davis, Marcy; Dieborld, John; Dieudonne, Nicole; Douilly, Roby; Gulick, SEan; Hornbach, Matthew; Johnson, Harold; Ryan, Katherine; Sorlien, Christopher; Steckler, Michael; Symithe Geology Volume: 39 (2011) doi:10.1130/G31815.1:6
The last reconnection of the Marmara Sea (Turkey) to the World Ocean: A paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic perspective McHugh, C. M. G.; Gurung, D.; Giosan, L.; Ryan, W. B. F.; Mart, Y.; Sancar, U.; Burckle, L.; Cagatay, M. N. Marine Geology Sep 18 Volume: 255 Issue: 1-2 p.: 64-82 (2008) DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2008.07.005
North Anatolian Fault in the Gulf of Izmit (Turkey): Rapid vertical motion in response to minor bends of a nonvertical continental transform Cormier, M. H.; Seeber, L.; McHugh, C. M. G.; Polonia, A.; Cagatay, N.; Emre, O.; Gasperini, L.; Gorur, N.; Bortoluzzi, G.; Bonatti, E.; Ryan, W. B. F.; Newman, K. R. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth Apr 25 Volume: 111 Issue: B4 p.: - (2006) Doi 10.1029/2005jb003633
Rapid subsidence and sedimentation from oblique slip near a bend on the North Anatolian transform fault in the Marmara Sea, Turkey Seeber, L.; Cormier, M. H.; McHugh, C.; Emre, O.; Polonia, A.; Sorlien, C. Geology Nov Volume: 34 Issue: 11 p.: 933-936 (2006) Doi 10.1130/G22520a.1
Submarine earthquake geology along the North Anatolia Fault in the Marmara Sea, Turkey: A model for transform basin sedimentation McHugh, C. M. G.; Seeber, L.; Cormier, M. H.; Dutton, J.; Cagatay, N.; Polonia, A.; Ryan, W. B. F.; Gorur, N. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Aug 30 Volume: 248 Issue: 3-4 p.: 661-684 (2006) DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2006.05.038
Environmental change and oyster colonization within the Hudson River estuary linked to Holocene climate Carbotte, S. M.; Bell, R. E.; Ryan, W. B. F.; McHugh, C.; Slagle, A.; Nitsche, F.; Rubenstone, J. Geo-Marine Letters Nov Volume: 24 Issue: 4 p.: 212-224 (2004) DOI 10.1007/s00367-004-0179-9
Estuarine processes and their stratigraphic record: paleosalinity and sedimentation changes in the Hudson Estuary (North America) Pekar, S. F.; McHugh, C. M. G.; Christie-Blick, N.; Jones, M.; Carbotte, S. M.; Bell, R. E.; Lynch-Stieglitz, J. Marine Geology Aug 30 Volume: 209 Issue: 1-4 p.: 113-129 (2004) DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2004.05.025
Holocene slip rate of the North Anatolian Fault beneath the Sea of Marmara Polonia, A.; Gasperini, L.; Amorosi, A.; Bonatti, E.; Bortoluzzi, G.; Cagatay, N.; Capotondi, L.; Cormier, M. H.; Gorur, N.; McHugh, C.; Seeber, L. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Nov 15 Volume: 227 Issue: 3-4 p.: 411-426 (2004) DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2004.07.042
Spatial variations in a condensed interval between estuarine and open-marine settings: Holocene Hudson River estuary and adjacent continental shelf McHugh, C. M. G.; Pekar, S. F.; Christie-Blick, N.; Ryan, W. B. F.; Carbotte, S.; Bell, R. Geology Feb Volume: 32 Issue: 2 p.: 169-172 (2004) Doi 10.1130/G20150.1
Uplift and subsidence from oblique slip: the Ganos-Marmara bend of the North Anatolian Transform, Western Turkey Seeber, L.; Emre, O.; Cormier, M. H.; Sorlien, C. C.; McHugh, C. M. G.; Polonia, A.; Ozer, N.; Cagatay, N. Tectonophysics Oct 29 Volume: 391 Issue: 1-4 p.: 239-258 (2004) DOI 10.1016/j.tecto.2004.07.015
Sea-level changes and depositional environments in the Izmit Gulf, eastern Marmara Sea, during the late glacial-Holocene period Cagatay, M. N.; Gorur, N.; Polonia, A.; Demirbag, E.; Sakinc, M.; Cormier, M. H.; Capotondi, L.; McHugh, C.; Emre, O.; Eris, K. Marine Geology Nov 30 Volume: 202 Issue: 3-4 p.: 159-173 (2003) Doi 10.1016/S0025-3227(03)00259-7
Cenozoic mass-transport facies and their correlation with relative sea-level change, New Jersey continental margin McHugh, C. M. G.; Damuth, J. E.; Mountain, G. S. Marine Geology May 20 Volume: 184 Issue: 3-4 p.: 295-334 (2002) Pii S0025-3227(01)00240-7
Pleistocene chronology of continental margin sedimentation: New insights into traditional models, New Jersey McHugh, C. M. G.; Olson, H. C. Marine Geology Jul 10 Volume: 186 Issue: 3-4 p.: 389-411 (2002) Pii S0025-3227(02)00198-6
Ichnofabrics of a Pleistocene slope succession, New Jersey margin: relations to climate and sea-level dynamics Savrda, C. E.; Krawinkel, H.; McCarthy, F. M. G.; McHugh, C. M. G.; Olson, H. C.; Mountain, G. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology Jul 1 Volume: 171 Issue: 1-2 p.: 41-61 (2001)
Sedimentary features associated with channel overbank flow: examples from the Monterey Fan McHugh, C. M. G.; Ryan, W. B. F. Marine Geology Feb 15 Volume: 163 Issue: 1-4 p.: 199-215 (2000)
Widespread fluid expulsion on a translational continental margin: Mud volcanoes, fault zones, headless canyons, and organic-rich substrate in Monterey Bay, California Orange, D. L.; Greene, H. G.; Reed, D.; Martin, J. B.; McHugh, C. M.; Ryan, W. B. F.; Maher, N.; Stakes, D.; Barry, J. Geological Society of America Bulletin Jul Volume: 111 Issue: 7 p.: 992-1009 (1999)
The influence of the San Gregorio fault on the morphology of Monterey Canyon McHugh, C. M. G.; Ryan, W. B. F.; Eittreim, S.; Reed, D. Marine Geology Apr Volume: 146 Issue: 1-4 p.: 63-91 (1998)
Upper Eocene ejecta of the New Jersey continental margin reveal dynamics of Chesapeake Bay impact McHugh, C. M. G.; Snyder, S. W.; Miller, K. G. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Aug Volume: 160 Issue: 3-4 p.: 353-367 (1998)
Upper Eocene tektite and impact ejecta layer on the continental slope off New Jersey Glass, B. P.; Koeberl, C.; Blum, J. D.; McHugh, C. M. G. Meteoritics & Planetary Science Mar Volume: 33 Issue: 2 p.: 229-241 (1998)
Biologic and geologic characteristics of cold seeps in Monterey bay, California Barry, J. P.; Greene, H. G.; Orange, D. L.; Baxter, C. H.; Robison, B. H.; Kochevar, R. E.; Nybakken, J. W.; Reed, D. L.; McHugh, C. M. Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers Nov-Dec Volume: 43 Issue: 11-12 p.: 1739-& (1996)
The Role of Diagenesis in Exfoliation of Submarine Canyons McHugh, C. M.; Ryan, W. B. F.; Schreiber, B. C. Aapg Bulletin-American Association of Petroleum Geologists Feb Volume: 77 Issue: 2 p.: 145-172 (1993)
Contemporary Sedimentary Processes in the Monterey Canyon Fan System McHugh, C. M.; Ryan, W. B. F.; Hecker, B. Marine Geology Jun Volume: 107 Issue: 1-2 p.: 35-50 (1992)
Delta-C-13, Delta-N-15 and Delta-O-18 of Calyptogena-Phaseoliformis (Bivalve Mollusk) from the Ascension Fan-Valley near Monterey, California Rau, G. H.; McHugh, C. M.; Harrold, C.; Baxter, C.; Hecker, B.; Embley, R. W. Deep-Sea Research Part a-Oceanographic Research Papers Nov Volume: 37 Issue: 11 p.: 1669-1676 (1990)
Geological Setting of Chemosynthetic Communities in the Monterey Fan Valley System Embley, R. W.; Eittreim, S. L.; McHugh, C. H.; Normark, W. R.; Rau, G. H.; Hecker, B.; Debevoise, A. E.; Greene, H. G.; Ryan, W. B. F.; Harrold, C.; Baxter, C. Deep-Sea Research Part a-Oceanographic Research Papers Nov Volume: 37 Issue: 11 p.: 1651-& (1990)